It could have taken Jimmy Curtis as long as 30 minutes to decide on a hat to wear on any given night. Most nights he ended up sporting a Hartford Whalers snap back. It was his favorite.
His hat collection, along with his Nike Air Max’s, old-school NBA jerseys and matching basketball shorts and–of course–the rugby team were just some of the things he never quit on. According to his father, Jim Curtis Sr., his son was fully committed to whatever he did, “When he started something, he finished it,” Curtis Sr. said.
Jimmy Curtis died unexpectedly due to injuries sustained from an accidental fall. At 21 years hold, he was days away from returning to Lasell College as a senior criminal justice major and a founding member and former co-captain of the rugby club.
The club, along with his goal to become a police officer after graduation, were just two on a long list of the things that Curtis loved with all of the big heart that his family, including his rugby bros, know he had.
His teammates were well aware of his dedication to them, with numerous injuries serving as a testament to his father’s assessment that he “wasn’t a quitter,” and helping to build the aura of invincibility many teammates saw in him.
Curtis once reset his jaw on the field, and played through broken thumbs, waiting until after the game to make friends in the ER waiting room. “He averaged two broken noses a year,” according to senior teammate and club President Ryan Rezendes.
The men of the rugby team consider each other brothers, which is why the term ‘bro’ is reserved only for a select few. With their spiritual leader’s passing, the term has taken on a renewed meaning.
Each time the rugby bros take the field this year, they’ll not only be without their brother, but also the team’s heart and soul. Many of his bros remember him as being “funny but serious.” He had an undaunted desire to win but wouldn’t let a loss get in the way of leading his bros in song on the ride home from a game.
His talent for music wasn’t limited to the team van. The T was just as good a place to start singing Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
About a week before he died, he uploaded a video of himself performing Little John’s “I’m the [expletive].” But his range reached much farther.
At his freshman orientation, as a member of the “Stahfish,” as he called his group, he joined then-future bros Mike Costello and Alan Dooley in singing along to Donna Summer on stage.
During the rugby club’s first ever home game, an event he helped make a reality, a bloody nose prompted Curtis to yell across the field, “Mom! Do you have the bleach?!”
Curtis adored his mother and never wanted to disappoint her. According to his father, chewing tobacco was the lone habit he maintained despite her disapproval. He kept his stash of tins behind the driver’s seat of his blue 2003 Chevy Impala with a gold bumper. Curtis Sr. said Jimmy chose not to paint it a single color for a simple reason: His son told him, “It’s gangsta now.”
One of Curtis’ primary missions was making others happy. “Jimmy was never at the top of his own priority list,” junior Antonio Nesbitt said.
He made people laugh with any number of antics. He still played with Tech Deck skateboards, established a half-court shots only rule in a game of NBA 2K9 (the final score was 6-3) and lost his shorts with stunning regularity during his games.
“We might finally go a game without seeing his ass,” Costello said.
He rarely wore jeans but, “He was the only 260-pound kid that could ‘Dougie’ in skinny jeans,” Dooley said. He preferred his outfit of T-shirt or jersey and shorts even through the winter months. On occasion, he’d wear his rugby team hoodie.
When the team holds its lone home game this season, and just the third ever, on Family, Friends and Alumni Weekend, they’ll pay one of many tributes planned for their fallen brother in front of Curtis’ family. Regardless of the outcome, it will be a fitting tribute, but only if they truly compete.
“If we don’t compete,” Nesbitt said, “we can’t say we’re playing for Jimmy.”
Curtis’ family, including his father, mother, and 13-year-old sister, understood the importance of the brotherhood he and his teammates shared. Curtis Sr. said the decision to forward all donations to his son’s bros on the rugby team would help keep what his son loved so much alive.
Jimmy was apart from his bros only at dinner time, but when he was there, he nearly always had a turkey sandwich. Usually, Curtis chose to go home for dinner or spend time with the girlfriend his father was certain he’d marry one day.
One of his last meals with his family was a full turkey dinner. It was his favorite, after all.